Anthony Quintano (CC-BY)

A huge blizzard is ravaging the East, causing thousands of flight cancellations, school closures, at least one death so far and general chaos. Many of those making minimum wage or less are forced to choose whether to venture into the cold or lose their jobs.

A hotel maid told Al Jazeera America: “My boss is making me work tonight and tomorrow night. If I didn’t go in, I would lose my job.” She has to commute 25 miles on dangerous roads to make less than minimum wage.

It’s a similar story when the weather is ideal. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, only 20 percent of low-wage workers nationwide have paid sick leave. That’s a real problem for everyone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a lack of sick leave is a major cause of the spread of foodborne illnesses. According to the agency, “12% of food workers said they had worked when they were sick with vomiting or diarrhea.” The reason? Fear of losing low-paying jobs needed to put food on the table and rent into the landlord’s hand.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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